Sunday, December 19, 2010

[N8 REVIEW] Part 4 : Camera Verdict : the smartest smart !

Posted on 12:25 by SlipKoRnSaad

After covering the camera and video department of the Nokia N8, it's time to summarize what was done and what should be done, and by the way, in case you missed it, you can read [N8 REVIEW] Part 2 : Camera, what it is, what it is not !  and [N8 REVIEW] Part 3 : Video recording, what it is, what it is not ! and also several head to head with some interesting devices with interesting results :

[Head To Head] N8 vs N82 Pictures Shots

[MINI Head To Head] : N900 Vs N8 Pictures Shots

[Head To Head] Apple iPhone 4 vs N8 Camera Shots

[MINI Head To Head] : N86 Vs N8 Pictures Shots

My experience with the N8 was and still is one of the best that i had on a smartphone (the first "best" one was with the 6630, followed by the N70, N73, N82, Samsung INNOV8, Samsung Omnia HD and SonyEricsson Vivaz in some way) and of course there're some things i wish to be fixed urgency to complete the "best camera performance and user experience" title/flag, in a no particular order :

What should be done :

- Increase video frame rate as much as possible (30fps) will be very much welcome, results : Smooth video ! (In study according to Damian, probably to come in an upcoming firmware update)

- Add option to enable continuous Autofocus and close up mode during video recording. (In study according to Damian, probably to come in an upcoming firmware update)

- Strongly suggesting to improve the camera UI and use the wasted space (a combination of the N900 paradigm and the two sided columns of the Samsung devices will be perfect), results : great and fast user experience. If some great work has been done to make the AF one of the fastest on the industry, reduce viewfinder lag, shutter lag, time-to-time shoots, but with a UI that make you spend 5-10s for a basic, thanks ;) (In study according to Damian, probably to come in an upcoming firmware update)

- Besides that, it´s pretty much annoying having to enter the gallery every-time I want to zoom at the picture I´ve just taken and then returning to the camera interface to take another one, even if the real image is still being processed in the background but my damn old Samsung innov8 did that with ease.

- Add Tap-to-focus feature (In study according to Damian, probably to come in an upcoming firmware update)

- Add panoramic mode (In study according to Damian : NRC (Nokia Research Centre) have been working hard on a standalone Panorama application for the N8. It will be available very shortly. It will allow up to 10 images to be stitched together. Initially as a free beta (which works very well) from the Ovi store and then later on as a chargeable upgrade as new functionality is added)

- Add burst mode

- Start camera app while the device is locked (it worked well on my sonyericsson vivaz without noticeable side effects on the battery)

- No dedicated video "shutter", results : it takes 9sec to start the camera application and switch it to video mode, this is very huge if i want to capture an "instant" scene...the only solution in this case is offering a solution like on the N900 ie. remember the last mode used (photo or video) or add setting that allow to set the default mode (photo or video).

Zoom lacks some smoothness (In study according to Damian, probably to come in an upcoming firmware update)

- Dedicated HDR mode (N8 is already providing by default more dynamic range than competitors and so the need for it is less) (In study according to Damian, probably to come in an upcoming firmware update)

- Camera app should remember my settings as Program Mode

What you should know :

Assuming you've read part 2 and 3, what's left to you to know is that :

- Jello effect on videos is excellently handled

- Regarding the picture size and compression : 85% compression is actually used, according to Damian, no difference with 100% compression rate even at 300% magnification (The human eye can’t see such differences), so it's a big plus to handle and process pictures, remember, it's all about speed and best possible results ! Puls, N8 provides lower noise than competitors, so the compression is more efficient.

- Images are outputted as 24 bit, 8 bit per channel. The data from the sensor is 30bit.

- Edge enhancement was reduced to a point where it’s almost disabled meaning you’ll be able to get some fantastic prints from this. Much more film like.

- ND filter to handle bright lighting conditions (to compensate variable aperture lens design)

- Wide-angle capability in video !

- Red-eye removal works in both auto and red-eye reduction modes, which fires twice in quick succession : Once to force your subjects’ pupils to contract, and another to take the photo when there’s less of their retina on show to reflect light, and cause red pupils to appear on your photos.. In red-eye reduction mode, it runs a more intensive version (results some cartoon-like effect, it simply a black filter to the retina, my wife which has no photographic experience wasn't happy to see their beautifully brown eyes turning to black ! I didn't test on green or blue eyes, but with the N82, i never had such behavior.) 

As you see, with the N8, Nokia is moving mobile camera's capabilities more further, and i can say the N8 has the best camera (including the potential raw power) available on a smartphone today. The 12 megapixel still photos are crisp even when viewed at full resolution, the flash is smart and powerful enough (but not as the pixon 12 one) and well managed (in most situations), and the 720p HD video recordings the phone captures are fantastic with a true intelligent stereo sound recording and an always in focus scene, but the camera's user interface doesn't get in the way of any of its good points, but hey ! Nokia is already looking at it, fingers crossed ;)

A final word to people who say : camera is not the selling point anymore : in my personal experience, i was amazed and find it funny to see some friends and bloggers swearing not to go back to Nokia and Symbian, finally enjoying to have an N8 on their pockets, making some great shots and enjoying its multimedia features which i'll discuss on the next part, really funny and interesting ;)

You can find all the FAQ regarding the N8 camera over here and a special thanks to damian for his time to answer all of my questions :)

Stay tuned for the next part in which i'll discuss all multimedia features ;)

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